Community Articles from 2014

Our Daily Poison: How Chemicals Have Contaminated the Food Chain

Our Daily Poison: How Chemicals Have Contaminated the Food Chain
By Marie-Monique Robin
Posted November 30, 2014

food contaminationA few of the topics discussed include the origins of the chemical industry in chemical warfare; its history of “strategizing how to control and manipulate research on the toxicity of its products, while waging a merciless war on all the scientists wishing to maintain their independence in the name of the defense of public health”; the modern epidemic of cancers and other diseases that exploded at the end of the 19th century; the weaknesses of epidemiological studies; the idea of acceptable daily intake; case studies of specific chemicals; and the “cocktail effect.”

There are several painful stories of poisoning victims’ struggles for recognition and compensation, which serve to break up and humanize the flood of technical information. In her conclusion, Robin calls for a new precautionary approach to approving chemicals that errs on the side of protecting people rather than industry. More…

Skyrocketing Water Bills in the US: Is Water The New Enron Scam? – Fake Crises, Fake Bills, And Fake Solutions

Skyrocketing Water Bills in the US: Is Water The New Enron Scam? – Fake Crises, Fake Bills, And Fake Solutions
By David Simon
Posted November 26, 2014

water is the new Enron scamReaders may remember my past article dealing with the apparent corruption regarding water rates in places like Dekalb County, Georgia. Electricity, Gas, Water. It’s crucial that people be aware that they are not safe from those providing these services and necessities. They should know that their “government” can even move to take water from them.

But Dekalb County is not the only place in the United States where water rates and the restriction of access to water has become a significant issue. As the quotes above demonstrate, Benton Harbor, Michigan appears to be ground zero in the battle for access to water. But “emergency managers” are not the only way to take water from people or charge them fortunes they can’t pay.

In Georgia, the technique is somewhat more subtle. There, water providers do not jack up the rates since doing so would cause a public outcry and protest. Instead, they send out water wills that are fictitious and that have no basis in actual water usage – bills as high or higher than 10 times more than the normal rate, often reaching the amount of three to six thousand dollars. When customers call to complain, the water board’s phone system conveniently doesn’t work and they end up reaching no one. And when they call the office of the CEO of the county, as people have been doing at the rate of nearly 50 calls per day for months, nothing happens. Letters of complaint go unanswered. More…

Want to feed the homeless? Be prepared to pay the government for the privilege

Want to feed the homeless? Be prepared to pay the government for the privilege
by Michelle Chen
Posted November 18, 2014

90 year old arrested for feeding homelessCities are enacting politics to keep homeless people out of sight and uphold a social order driven by racial and economic inequality. Homeless people, by definition, have nowhere to go – but now in many cities, they have even fewer options. While real estate developers tout “green space” and the economic “revitalisation” of urban landscapes, it’s the sidewalks, parks and plazas that have become hostile territory for the poor. City lawmakers are trying to “clean up” the streets by barring homeless people from parks, shunting families into overcrowded shelters and, in some places, making it a crime even to help the homeless.

Last week, when a 90 year-old activist got arrested for feeding local homeless people at the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, his outrage pointed to a nationwide trend of criminalizing compassion in the United States. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, since the start of 2013, 21 cities have imposed measures to restrict people from sharing food with the needy in public. More…

A City for Sale: Detroit Auctions City Assets for Pennies on the Dollar

A City for Sale: Detroit Auctions City Assets for Pennies on the Dollar
By Seraphine Collins and Andre Damon
Posted November 8, 2014

Selling of a city to the richJugurtha looked back at Rome and said, “A city for sale, if it can find a purchaser!” – Sallust

On the side of the Lodge Freeway, a few blocks from Detroit’s historic Boston-Edison neighborhood, stand, row upon row, acre upon acre, hundreds of city maintenance vehicles—backhoes, snow plows, and lighting and utility trucks—all newly-painted and cleaned.

It looks as though these vehicles have been lined up for some great task; perhaps, at any moment, thousands of workers will arrive at the lot, man the cabins, and stream into America’s poorest large city to repair its thousands of broken street and traffic lights, fill the potholes that mar nearly every street, prepare its antiquated drainage system for the harsh Michigan winter, and remove the trash piled up in neighborhoods and parks. More…

The Public Bank Option: Building an Ark

The Public Bank Option: Building an Ark
By Mike Krauss
Posted October 28, 2014

an ark for the peopleEllen H Brown is an attorney, researcher, author and daughter of U.S. diplomats. And observant.

In the aftermath of the Wall Street collapse and the catastrophe it let loose, she noticed that while forty-nine of the fifty states and thousands of municipal governments were drowning in red ink and deficits, one state was not: North Dakota.

She investigated and discovered that unlike the other states, the people of North Dakota owned their own central bank, a mini Federal Reserve, the Bank of North Dakota (BND), and as one North Dakota banker put it, “When the crash hit, the BND never blinked, and the credit kept flowing.” More…

Walton Family Undermining Rooftop Solar, ILSR Report Finds

Walton Family Undermining Rooftop Solar, ILSR Report Finds
by Stacy Mitchell
Posted October 25, 2014

Waltons fight solar energyThe Walton family — majority owners of Walmart — are impeding America’s transition to a clean energy future, a new study by ILSR finds. At a time when more than 500,000 households and businesses are generating their own solar electricity, and the U.S. solar industry is employing 143,000 people, the Waltons are funding nearly two dozen organizations working to roll back renewable energy policies, while a Walton-owned company is pushing for regulations aimed at hindering the growth of rooftop solar power.

Rooftop solar — which is spreading rapidly thanks to favorable economics and strong state policies — offers a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the transition to renewable power, save money for households, and create tens of thousands of new jobs. More…

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